By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Thanks to the generosity of those who donated money to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl during the Lenten season, 18 organizations in the Diocese of Davenport are receiving grants to help with hunger-related causes.
Altogether, parishes and individual contributors raised $68,421.66. CRS will use 75 percent of the funds for hunger programs worldwide, with 25 percent staying in the Diocese of Davenport.
This dollar amount is down from previous years, however. Some parishes did not get their donations in by the time the diocesan Rice Bowl committee met to select grant recipients, said Loxi Hopkins, a volunteer in the Diocesan Social Action office. These late donations will be added to next year’s total.
St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant contributed its largest total in recent memory this year, collecting $3,729.32. Office Manager Vicki Lohmann said the parish’s Social Action Committee visited religious education classrooms prior to the collection, showing this year’s Rice Bowl video and talking about the collection. Bulletin inserts are also part of the parish’s Rice Bowl campaign.
Another parish with large gains this year was Sacred Heart Parish in Melcher/Dallas, which collected $2,046.81. This is their highest total in at least 10 years. Parish Secretary Martha Reed said the parish’s strategy wasn’t too different from previous years. Bowls were distributed to youths on Ash Wednesday and information was included in parish bulletins throughout Lent. “I think maybe our parish was in a giving mood this year.”
Several parishes opted to make Share the Journey, a global migration awareness campaign, part of the Rice Bowl experience. Share the Journey’s Mobile Stations of the Cross, called “One on the Journey: A Solidarity Prayer Walk,” are available on loan to parishes around the diocese.
Here are snapshots of recipients around the diocese:
The North Liberty Community Pantry
The North Liberty Community Pantry provides food and clothing for struggling families in North Liberty and the other small towns and rural areas of Johnson County. “We believe that everyone has the right to be free from hunger and to be treated with dignity and respect,” volunteer Mary Mitchell said in the application letter. In 2017, NLCP helped 2,072 individuals in 645 families meet basic needs for food and clothing. Forty percent of families report that the NLCP is their primary source of food each week, providing two to three meals per day. Last year over 335,800 pounds of food and toiletries and 20,500 articles of clothing were distributed. The $800 grant from the diocesan Rice Bowl collections will be used to buy protein items for the food pantry, such as frozen ground beef, hot dogs, canned meat and peanut butter.
IC Compassion in Iowa City received $1,500 this year from local Rice Bowl collections. Executive Director Teresa Stecker wrote of last year’s grant: “We were able to do the food pantry for our (refugee) women’s support group on Saturdays. With the money, we purchased from local African and Eastern markets along with farmers markets to be able to provide fish, chicken, familiar seasonings, fresh fruit and vegetables for over 10 different families each week for the summer. We then used the rest of the money to support food purchases for the women’s support group and other refugee families the rest of the year. This included buying gift cards for them to go purchase their own food as they wished. All the money was used on food for families, for classes and for distribution to serve mainly refugee families but also other immigrant families.”
McAnthony Window, Davenport
St. Anthony Parish-Davenport received a grant for the first time: $500 for the McAnthony Window meal program. In the heart of downtown Davenport, the parish has a walk-up window in the kitchen of the parish center and an enclosed building where individuals experiencing food insecurity can have a meal from 9-11 a.m. on weekdays. “We expect to provide 15,000 weekday meals from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. This Rice Bowl funding will be used to purchase food for these meals,” said Sam Lazio, parish finance council chairman.
Coralville Community Food Pantry
Coralville Community Food Pantry received a $500 grant to purchase protein-rich and nutritious food for its food assistance program. “Grant funds will help the pantry to regularly stock nutritious, high-protein food such as milk, peanut butter, eggs, dried beans and lean meats, Executive Director John Boller wrote in the letter. “Purchases will be made from wholesale and subsidized sources to ensure that the funds are used efficiently. On average, through these sources, we are able to stretch every grant dollar to purchase at least 5 pounds of food … Providing our clients with the option to choose from a variety of food rich in protein will help them sustain muscle, support neurological function and aid digestion.”
Other organizations receiving grants for hunger-related causes this year include: Agape Center, Bettendorf; Camp Excel Leadership Academy, Davenport; Community Service North Lee County Food Pantry, Fort Madison; Concerned DeWitt Citizens, LTD, DeWitt; Friendly House, Davenport; Helping Hands Food Pantry, Knoxville; Henry County Help to Others (H20), Mt. Pleasant; Information Referral & Assistance Services, Clinton; Project Renewal, Davenport; Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport; St. Joseph Social Action Committee, DeWitt; Ss. Mary & Mathias c/o Loaves and Fishes, Muscatine; The Diversity Service Center of Iowa, Muscatine; and The Lord’s Cupboard of Jefferson County, Fairfield.